Published: 24 March 2022  (Updated: 24 March 2022)

BLOG: Don’t forget to Spring Clean your Cosmetics!


Spring is officially here - which can only mean one thing. It’s time for the annual clear out and clean up of our cupboards, corners and other assorted crevices.

But what about our bathroom cabinets, make-up bags and toiletry drawers?

Beauty experts recommend that we spring clean our beauty and personal care products and tools to make sure our everyday essentials stay safe to use.

Dr Emma Meredith, Pharmacist and Director General of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), offers her five top tips for a cosmetic and toiletry clean up this spring…

Five Top Tips for Spring Cleaning your Cosmetics and Toiletries


1. If the Best Before has expired they should be retired

Most cosmetics and toiletries are formulated to last a very long time, which is handy because we often only use them in small amounts. But they won’t last forever! So first thing’s first, dispose of any that have exceeded their shelf life. Products that have a safety and quality lifespan of fewer than 30 months will either have Best Before End (BBE) or an egg-timer on the label, with the date after which the product shouldn’t be used. Other products will usually include a PAO symbol (which looks like a pot with an open lid) letting you know the ‘Period After Opening’ for which it will stay safe to use and continue to perform as you’d expect, from the date that you’ve opened the product.

Dr Meredith advises keeping a note of when you open your products so you know when it’s finally time to part ways: “When I open a new product I always make a little note of the date either on the box or label so that I know when it’s eventually time to recycle it.”


2. Check for changes in texture, colour or smell.

If you’re unsure when you first opened your products, check for any changes to their texture, colour or smell because this can be a sure sign that it’s time to call time. Equally, if you strongly suspect that the last time you wore that silver lippy was Millenium night, you’re probably past working out when you opened it because the PAO ship has certainly sailed.

“Products are manufactured under strict conditions which means when you buy them they haven’t been contaminated by microorganisms like bacteria, yeast and moulds”, explains Dr Meredith. “But from the first time you open them, the PAO clock starts ticking as you introduce those microorganisms through everyday use. For example, every time you apply your mascara wand to your eye.”

So the best way to avoid a case of the sticky eye, or similar, is to stick to the PAO guidance.


3. Clean up on Aisle Everything!

Now that you’ve purged your out-of-date products, it’s time to give everything a good old fashioned deep clean. Use a damp cloth to clean any marks or smears off your products. If your make-up or toiletry bag is made of washable material, pop it in the washing machine. Then give any brushes and applicators a good wash with warm water and antibacterial soap. Ensure the soap is rinsed thoroughly and that you leave them to dry out properly before putting them back in bags or drawers.

“Ideally you should be cleaning your product applicators and brushes every few weeks to make sure you’re not introducing any lurking bacteria, or leftover oils, back onto your skin.” advises Dr Meredith.


4. Sort out and store

It’s time to sort and store your newly cleaned products. You’ll usually find any recommended storage guidelines on the original packaging, but as a rule of thumb you should be seeking out a cool, dry place for your beauty and personal care favourites. Fragrances, in particular, should be kept away from heat and direct sunlight. But stored correctly, can last for many years.

“While bathrooms are an obvious choice for storing shampoos, shaving products and toothpastes, they are not the best place to store cosmetics because of the high humidity. Instead opt for a cool dry cupboard or drawer elsewhere”, advises Dr Meredith.


 5. Be a planet-friendly purger

Lastly, what to do with those products you’ve retired? Look no further than the label to find out the most planet-friendly way to dispose of them. Spot a circular arrow on either a green or black background? That’s letting you know that all - or some- of your product can be recycled. Alongside it, you’ll often find extra information on which parts of the product you can recycle, and how or where you can do this. You may be able to add the packaging to your ordinary household recycling or you may be directed to the growing number of special services such as take-back schemes.  Have a look at this helpful recycling locator tool from the sustainability experts at WRAP which shows your nearest location for recycling different cosmetic items.

“There  are more opportunities than ever to recycle every little piece of your everyday essentials”, says Dr Meredith. “If ever you’re unsure, the Customer Care Line on the pack is a great place to ask for recycling advice that will be specific to that product.”


For more information on how to store and dispose of your cosmetic and toiletry products, including advice on understanding product labels, visit the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association website:

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